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Collected Short Stories: Volume 1

(Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham #1)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,931 ratings  ·  105 reviews
This first volume of Somerset Maugham's collected short stories includes the famous story 'Rain', the tragedy of the prudish missionary Mr Davidson and Sadie Thompson, the prostitute. The collection contains thirty stories that take us from the islands of the Pacific Ocean to England, France and Spain. They all reveal Maugham's acute and often sardonic observation of human ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1951)
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 ·  1,931 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
I recall my tough reading from each story due to my limited vocabulary, intermediate grammar and dialogs in various contexts some 50 years ago while in/after my college years. However, I kept reading on and on and had humble pride in reading him with relative enjoyment and due appreciation; therefore, I've long owned my grateful thanks to Maugham's readable style, I think my English has thus been improved gradually from such seemingly intensive reading exploration.

I think it is one of the ways o
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, favorites
This is the first of a four volume short story collection by William Somerset Maugham. For about three weeks Maugham kept me enchanted with his 30 stories in this book. 30 canons I'd say. Most of these stories mean to scrutinize the human nature. Maugham was a doctor in personal life which certainly often led him to play the role of a dissector. Evidently, he incorporated this other being of him into his works when he became a writer. He dissected and looked into the patterns how humans deal wit ...more
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
There are some writers who once you sample their works, you cannot resist until you have covered a fair share of it. With Somerset Maugham, the challenge is both thrilling as well daunting. Thrilling because here an author I am so happy I discovered and someone with whom I almost feel a kindred spirit - in terms of the themes he takes up and his so called cynicism - which is really not cynicism, but a certain astounding ability to discern human weaknesses. He's realistic about people, knowing we ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great storyteller Somerset Maugham is. Ranging from as little as 4 pages to a few dozens, each story is a delight to read: there is tension, often there is fun, many times tragedy and the prose is beautiful. What else can a reader ask for?
Steve Payne
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never had a problem answering that old chestnut of a question, who is your favourite writer? For me it’s Somerset Maugham every time – with second place being a fair distance behind. I can half-heartedly and tiredly pick up one of his books at the end of a long day and within a couple of minutes – BANG! – he’s got me. I can think of no other writer who can do this so consistently. He can create an alluringly exotic, or more familiar world which simmers with anticipation in just a couple of ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
The most memorable stories in this collection are those that deal with Western/British colonists in the Far East and Pacific Islands. The stories revolving around this subject are often wry and ironic, beautiful descriptions of the exoticism of the foreign climes and the mental isolation that such geography provokes in Maugham's character. The best of these stories exploit the broiling tensions, the understated violence and the sweat and grime of non-English landscape; they are stories of the ti ...more
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, diverse collection of stories, some tragic, some light and amusing. Most are excellent, a few are too long and the story did not interest me, which is why I gave four stars, not five.

The stand out stories are -

The Fall of Edward Barnard
The Luncheon
The Ant and the Grasshopper
Appearance and Reality
The Facts of Life
The Voice of the Turtle
The Unconquered
The Poet

The stories I didn't find interesting -

The Pool
Before the Party
The Yellow Streak

Rhea Gajaria
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wish I heard about Maugham earlier in my life. Though a bit dense to read (attributing that to the old english writing style) the stories were beautiful written and some of the best shorts I’ve ever read.
Manuel Alfonseca
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
ENGLISH: Third time I have read this collection of 30 stories. It contains his famous story "Rain," which I do not like. The story I liked most was "Mackintosh," whose two main characters stand clearly for two very famous real people. I leave the reader the homework of discovering who. Of the remainder, I liked 14 above the others. One of them, "The unconquered," is a harsh story about France under the nazis. Curiously enough, I didn't like much his stories about Spain.

ESPAÑOL: Esta es la terce
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This writer has always been one of my favorites, somehow he has a really distinctive voice but at the same time writes in a way that makes the reader forget he's reading words and there is only the story left to enjoy. You can tell he's known a lot of people and probably heard all these stories in some form or another and then wrote them down. He personally chose the stories himself and put themin the order he wanted them in, which goes georgaphically from the South Pacific to England, Paris, Sp ...more
Joseph Grinton
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read these stories one after another without getting distracted by anything else. I was astonished by how good they were. I love the way he describes people. He always chooses exactly the right words. He is like a skilful portrait painter. You know these people are real and he has captured them perfectly. But he also has a mischievous sense of humour. He is at once wicked and compassionate. Absolutely exquisite.
Shawn Thrasher
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of these short stories are difficult to read in their overtly racist characters and tone (I don't know enough about Maugham to know if he shared the views of some of his characters or not). Others were delightfully dry and droll. Many were like epigrams: short - pithy - with a witty punch or twist of surprise at the end. I enjoyed those the best. ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if this was arranged around a theme (tropical islands and rich white people living in different countries) but I really liked the selection and specially the mixture between what was clearly fiction based on his knowledge of people and far places in the world and things that sound like might actually have happened to him. ...more
Chris Waterford
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
These were consistently better than his Far Eastern Tales---most of them were very entertaining.
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In these days of the novel (no, not Corona) written to be made into a movie, the art of short story writing pales into insignificance. This bunch of stories written mostly about a hundred years ago is a masterly exercise in exploring human relationships with all their variety in emotions, character traits and foibles. Kind of nostalgic reading experience!
Anshul Gaurav
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it

There was a time, not so long ago, when choosing a book for that compulsory assignment wasn't a pretty difficult task. Lazy bums, like yours truly, had their work cut out. Go to the bookworm's room in the floor above,dig his shelf for the thinnest book available (simple English preferred). Try to read it else google.

 One such search of size zero books led me to a rather popular set of books. This time there was some effort involved : making choices. The animal farm was quickly put back, students
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Like most collections of short stories, this one is uneven. How do you rank such a book? I mostly read a story or two when I had nothing else to read so it took me two months to finish. If I'd not be able to renew it at the library 3 times, I probably would have tagged it "did not finish" with 2 stars. However the stories in the last quarter of the book really picked up--definitely some 4 and 5 star material there.

Each story stands on its own so my suggestion is to start from the back and give u
Lyman Maddox
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Educated as a doctor, highly successful as a playwrite, Maugham dissects human behavior and transforms the parts into great short stories! I've read a critic who changed Maugham with being a cynic (the critic's words), but I find "Willy" to be one of the most hopeful writers I have ever read. When he finds something postive in a person, I believe it. ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Why is this guy not more well known? Why hasn't this collection of stories been turned into a Netflix or HBO series? They have everything. I've never been so entertained by a single collection of stories.
Looking forward to the next volume.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I think that one read-through is not quite enough to form a proper opinion of this collection, so I won't write a full review just yet. Needless to say, however, Maugham's writing is always deft; often it is delightful.

A post-colonial reading of this series is a fair ways beyond my grasp currently, but I would like to make a feminist critique. The women in this collection are not bound by the societal context they exist in, and rarely by the narrator's opinion either. This collection was first
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of short stories which amazes the reader with the author's depth of understanding of human nature. It dwells on complex realities like how the most devout and God-fearing of people can sometimes be several times more evil than religion-defined sinners like prostitutes. It keeps itself at a distance from distinct identities of black and white, and treads, rather, on the intricacies of thought and action. While one may be tempted to praise the ambitious and diligent and look d ...more
I read seven of these stories but I could only immerse myself in this masculine, colonial world for so long. They are worth returning to but maybe one at a time.

My takeaway. Somerset Maugham is a masterful story teller and his approach to the reader to get him/her settled for a good yarn really works. They are good yarns and well told.

But my second take is that at this time Sylvia Townsend Warner, the two divine Elizabeths Bowen and Taylor to mention only three were writing short stories that
Robert Cohen
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maugham is best known for his great novels (Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge, The Moon and Sixpence, etc.). But he was also one of the greatest short story writers of the 20th Century. I have as yet not read any of his novels (that is to come) and instead decided to start with his short stories, a decision I in no way regret.

As he wrote a total of 91 short stories, I first tapped the internet for recommendations of his best. I read some of those, and others as well. I was thoroughly charmed by
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maugham is definitely an accessible writer with a well written, good humored, fluid and captivating prose. One understands his past appeal to the theater public. Unfortunately, what puts me off is the persistent Imperialism topic, that feels ill suited today, since British supremacy is implied in his stories, in regard to the natives - inherent racism. But I did catch some well deserved reflections on the matter, even if it is clear that the writer does not contemplate other ethnicities equal to ...more
Lewis Woolston
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a rare gift to be able to write a short story, say five or six pages all up, that has the power to change a person's life and make them rethink everything all the while entertaining them.
W. Somerset Maugham was a genius who should be more widely read.
Dive into this collection, you won't regret it.
Mike Bloom
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm prone to overrate short story collections, because if most of the stories are great or even just some of the stories are exceptional, I tend to regard the entire book as five-star quality. Somerset Maugham short stories were recommended to me and I found that, overall, this collection was excellent. A great read. ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of stories. The longer ones in this collection are set in the South Seas, but there is a nice mix of shorter stories in a wide variety of locales. Very enjoyable, often quite funny.
Robert Muir
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Normally, I don't like short stories as much as novels. The stories here are old enough to seem like events or adventures from a different time. Perhaps that was what made it a rather entertaining read. ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
W. Somerset Maugham is a master story teller with great insight into the human condition. I don't know much about the man and is views, but colonialism and empire are very much a part of his stories. ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A collection of short stories written in the time of Colonialism. While lazy racism and sexism is integral to many of the stories, Maugham’s intense yet subtle commentary on the many hypocrisies and ironies of human nature redeem this collection.
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William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost l

Other books in the series

Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham (4 books)
  • Collected Short Stories: Volume 2 (Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, #2)
  • Collected Short Stories: Volume 3 (Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, #3)
  • Collected Short Stories: Volume 4 (Collected Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, #4)

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